State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) announced today that the Governor’s office on Management and Budget (GOMB) has signed off on the release of State funds to assist William Hainey Harper College with heating system repairs throughout the 200-acre Palatine campus.

According to Morrison, the existing steam and condensate piping, valves and supports are failing and require replacement to maintain the integrity of the heating system that provides heat and hot water to the entire campus. “A failure of this system would result in the campus being closed until repairs are completed,” said Morrison. “With cold weather right around the corner, it is imperative that the repairs take place without delay.”

The total project cost is estimated at $1,057,083 and the college has agreed to pay $436,013 while the State pays the remaining $621,070.

The Harper College project allocation is part of $11.3 million in project funds that were released for use this week by community colleges throughout Illinois. Last week the State announced a $900,000 allocation to Harper College for improvements to the Engineering and Technology Center. Additional funds for other community college capital projects are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Approximately 50 taxpayers from the 54th Legislative House District attended a free property tax forum in Palatine on Thursday that was sponsored by State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine). Those in attendance learned about the tax assessment process and how to challenge an assessment that is believed to be inaccurate.

Morrison was joined at the event by Cook County Board of Review member Dan Patlak and Palatine Township Assessor Terry Kelly. Together they spoke to residents and explained the process that ties the value of their homes to the eventual tax bill that arrives in their mailboxes. The community leaders also outlined the exemptions that can be used to lower assessments and the steps required for appealing an assessment. Following the presentation, Morrison, Patlak and Kelly took questions from audience members.

“It was a pleasure to partner with Dan Patlak and Terry Kelly for this successful event,” said Morrison. “The procedure utilized to create assessments and tax bills can be confusing, and I was glad to offer a program where people could learn about the process, ensure they are receiving all eligible exemptions, and have their other questions answered. Everyone left with a better understanding of the process.”

Morrison said he would be hosting another property tax forum this fall.
Up to $900,000 in in capital funding has been released to benefit William Rainey Harper College in Palatine as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 capital budget approved by lawmakers in late May. The capital program was appropriated as part of the current Fiscal Year 2019 state budget.

“William Raney Harper College is known nation-wide for their excellence in education,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner. “This capital investment will help the college to build a state of the art, world class Engineering and Technology Center that will draw the best and brightest students. It is another example of how we are investing more in higher education to better prepare our students for the 21st century economy.”

The funds allocated to Harper College will be used for renovations and other improvements to the community college’s Engineering & Technology Center. The Center opened in 2014 and houses enhanced facilities to accommodate the growing demand for career training programs that lead directly to jobs such as manufacturing, welding, architectural technology, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), maintenance technology, law enforcement and fire science.

“These dollars are key investments in the infrastructure of Illinois' institutions of higher education. Harper's Engineering and Technology Center is leading the way down a relatively new path in keeping Illinois' cutting-edge and top-notch workforce,” said State Senator Tom Rooney (R-Rolling Meadows). “The state fulfilling its commitment to Harper is an important step in serving the students, residents, and businesses of the 27th District.”

“Industry in the Northwest suburbs needs qualified, capable employees, and this resource center helps provide the necessary training for people to fill these jobs and grow the Illinois economy,” said State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine). “This area pays a lot in income and property taxes, and I am pleased to see nearly a million dollars in State funds coming back to an institution that serves so many families in the 54th District and beyond.”

Having been approved, the Comptroller now has authority to release the funding to Harper College to complete improvements to the Engineering & Technology Center once costs begin to be incurred.

The Fiscal Year 2019 capital initiatives appropriated in the final budget included $100 million to address needs of higher education facilities, including the funding necessary to complete ongoing construction and repair projects, as well as financing to begin new maintenance and infrastructure improvement projects.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has been named a “Champion of Free Enterprise” by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce for his voting record in support of the Illinois business community. Morrison also won the award based on his voting record in 2015-2016.

“It is a privilege to accept this award,” said Morrison. “Illinois needs a healthy economy to survive and thrive. My votes on behalf of those who create jobs and drive our state’s economy are reflected in this award. As a third generation small business owner, I appreciate the opportunity to be an advocate in the legislature.”

When scoring, the Chamber was looking for a “no” vote on the 32% tax increase, proposed red tape for call center operators, an electricity rate increase, expensive regulations to Internet web site operators, a $15 minimum wage, a gross receipts tax on investment management services and insincere workers’ compensation reform. The Chamber was looking for a “yes” vote on legislation that bring Illinois to the forefront of 5G Internet, state preemption of autonomous vehicles, and comprehensive procurement reform. Click here to view a summary of all bills that were scored.

“Representative Tom Morrison is a strong advocate for the business community and recognizes that pro-growth reforms lead to more jobs and a healthier economy,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “Representative Morrison was a vocal opponent of the 32% income tax hike that took money out of every working Illinoisan's pocket, and he continues to fight for the Illinois taxpayer, including the job creators who further economic opportunities for everyone in this state.”

“Creating jobs and promoting business growth is vital to the future success of our state,” said Morrison. “As a legislator, it is a policy area I have always taken very seriously.”
Citizens residing in Illinois’ 54th Legislative House District are invited to join State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) and a local tax assessment expert on Thursday, September 6 for a free seminar on understanding the property tax assessment process and learning how to appeal tax assessments. The 1 ½-hour event will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the Palatine Village Hall, 200 E. Wood Street in Palatine.

Cook County Board of Review Member Dan Patlak will join Morrison at the informational event, which will include a brief presentation and a Question and Answer session. “This event brings taxpayers together with a respected tax appeal expert, so people can learn how their tax bill is created and what remedies are available to those who believe their assessment is too high,” said Morrison. “High property taxes is the number one issue affecting the residents of the 54th District, and those who attend this seminar will learn the steps to follow to challenge their assessment and hopefully lower their tax burden.”

Due to space constraints, RSVPs are requested. If you would like to attend the property tax assessment seminar, please RSVP by calling Representative Morrison’s office at (847) 202-6584.

Palatine’s Street Fest Gets Underway on August 24!
The Village of Palatine is putting the finishing touches on this year’s Street Fest event, which will be held in the heart of the downtown area the weekend from August 24-26. The epicenter of this annual event is the intersection of Brockway and Slade Streets, and local families are invited to enjoy the live music, great food and kids activities that have become a staple of this community festival. Street Fest gets underway on Friday the 24th at 5:00 PM with activities running constant until midnight. Saturday hours will be 11:00 AM until midnight, and the festival concludes on Sunday with hours from 11:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Admission to Palatine Street Fest is free and all are welcome. For more information about this annual community event, click here

Morrison Returns Nearly 24% of District Office Funds
As a lawmaker I try to lead by example. One way I try to set an example for fiscal prudence and responsibility involves the use of my district office allotment. When Fiscal Year 2018 ended on June 30, I returned $16,621 of unused district office funds to the State of Illinois. 

Each year, every legislator is provided with approximately $69,500 for use in running a local legislative office. Salaries for employees, rent, utilities, computer equipment, office supplies, and travel for official business is purchased with these funds. 

I am frugal with my district office spending and always try to return between 10% and 20% of my local allotment back to the State. This year I was able to return almost 24%. My staff and I only use paper and official postage only when necessary and rely heavily on electronic communication with constituents. To promote local community outreach events or to discuss legislative issues with residents who contact the office, we rely mostly on email, the Internet, and local media, which is free of charge. For committee meetings in Chicago, I use public transit to save on driving and parking costs.

Every penny adds up, and if all 177 House and Senate offices could reduce their local spending by at least 10%, we would be setting a great example for how state spending could be reduced. This recent return of funds marks the 8th consecutive year that I have returned money at the end of the fiscal year.

Rep. Morrison Champions Legislation to Force Property Tax Reform in Illinois
Illinoisans are desperate for property tax relief, but the General Assembly has failed to act. I hear almost daily from constituents who complain that the taxes are causing them to consider leaving Illinois. In response to this crisis, this year I signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of HB 5924, which eliminates Illinois’ ability to collect property taxes as of July 1, 2019. My hope is that by placing a sunset date on the current property tax code, lawmakers will finally get serious about property tax reform. I am hopeful that HB 5924 bill will move through the General Assembly during the upcoming Fall Veto Session.

Rep. Morrison Joins Rolling Meadows Residents for Community Bike Ride
I recently had an opportunity to join Rolling Meadows Mayor Len Prejna and about 250 area residents for a 4.6-mile community bike ride that showcased the City’s newest bike trail. The community bike ride is an annual event, and if you were not able to join the festivities this year I hope you will consider participating with your family next year. Click here to view a video taken during the event. 

Close to $69 Million in IDOT Funds Allocated for District 54 Road and Bridge Projects from 2019-2024
Almost $69 million of an $11.05 billion statewide road and bridge improvement program will be spent on projects in the 54th Legislative House District. The projects were announced recently as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) six-year Proposed Highway Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2019-2024.

District 54 projects included in IDOTs six-year program include:
  • crack and joint sealing on US 12, IL 53 and Rand Road, from Ela Road to IL 58 in Deer Park, Lake Zurich, Kildeer, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Prospect Heights, Mount Prospect and Des Plaines 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on US 14 from Main Street/Lake Cook Road to Ela Road in Inverness and Barrington 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on US 14 from Ela Road to Hicks Road in Palatine and Inverness 
  • bridge rehabilitation on IL 53 from south of US 12 to IL 62 in Arlington Heights 
  • engineering for improvements to IL 53 from south of US 12 to IL 62 in Arlington Heights 
  • culvert replacement and drainage improvements on IL 68 from the east branch of Salt Creek near Quentin Road in Palatine 
  • resurfacing on Barrington Road from IL 59 to IL 62 in Inverness, Barrington Hills and Barrington 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on Hicks Road south of US 14 to Kirchoff Road in Palatine and Rolling Meadows 
  • resurfacing on IL 53 from US 12 to Anderson Drive in Palatine 
  • resurfacing, ADA improvements and a railroad flagger on Main Street between Hart Road and Ela Road in Barrington Hills, Barrington and Deer Park 
  • resurfacing and ADA Improvements on Meacham Road from Emerson Avenue to IL 62 in Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road between IL 62 to east of Roselle Road in Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Inverness and Palatine 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road from US 14 to Sanders Road in Palatine, Arlington Heights, Prospect Heights and Wheeling 
  • culvert replacement on Palatine Road at Salt Creek south of Winston Drive in Palatine 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road and South Frontage Road from North Verde Avenue to Palatine Road in Arlington Heights 
  • resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road/North Frontage Road from Williams Drive to Alison Drive in Palatine 
Based on current funding levels, the FY 2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the State. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.

I Value Your Opinions and Feedback
I enjoy hearing from constituents about the issues and values that are important to them. Please hit the reply key and write back to me with a list of the top few issues that are most important to you and your family, the 54th District, and the State of Illinois. I look forward to reading these responses.
When the previous fiscal year ended on June 30, 2018, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) returned $16,621 of unused district office funds to the State of Illinois.

Each year, every legislator is provided with approximately $69,500 for use in running a local legislative office. Salaries for employees, rent, utilities, computer equipment, office supplies and travel for official business is purchased with these funds.

“This is one way I can lead by example,” said Morrison. “I am frugal with my district office spending and always try to return between 10% and 20% of my local allotment back to the State. This year I was able to return almost 24%.”

Morrison said he uses paper and official postage only when necessary and relies heavily on electronic communication with his constituents. To promote local community outreach events or to discuss legislative issues with residents who contact the office, he relies heavily on email, the Internet, and local media, which is free of charge. For committee meetings in Chicago, he uses public transit to save on driving and parking costs. “Every penny adds up, and if all 177 House and Senate offices could reduce their local spending by at least 10%, we would be setting a great example for how state spending could be reduced.”

This recent return of funds marks the 8th consecutive year that Morrison has returned money at the end of the fiscal year.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) is hoping that putting a sunset date on the current law that allows Illinois to collect property taxes will prompt property tax reform in Illinois.

On Wednesday, Morrison joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) in filing HB 5924, which would repeal the existing property tax code on July 1, 2019.

“Illinoisans are desperate for property tax relief, but the General Assembly has failed to act,” said Morrison. “I hear often from constituents who complain that the taxes are causing them to consider leaving Illinois. We cannot wait any longer to address this most critical issue.”

Durkin unveiled HB 5924 on Wednesday during a speech at the City Club of Chicago, and said his legislation creating a sunset date for the current property tax code should start the process of fixing the state’s broken property tax system. He pointed to the establishment of a deadline for school funding reform and budget negotiations as successful examples of how firm deadlines prompted legislative action.

“I am pleased to be a chief co-sponsor of this legislation,” said Morrison. “Hopefully, with a deadline looming, talks can begin in earnest about restructuring our system of taxation in a way that is more equitable and fair.”

Morrison said he hopes the bill will move through the General Assembly during veto session.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-54) announced today that almost $69 million of an $11.05 billion statewide road and bridge improvement program will be spent on projects in the 54th Legislative House District. The projects were announced recently as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) six-year Proposed Highway Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2019-2024.

“I am thrilled to see so many beneficial projects coming to the 54th District over the next six years,” said Morrison. “Keeping our infrastructure in good condition not only provides safety to our residents, but it also helps the economy thrive by providing good-paying jobs to Illinois’ work force.”

District 54 projects included in IDOT's six-year program include:
  • $700,000 for crack and joint sealing on US 12, IL 53 and Rand Road, from Ela Road to IL 58 in Deer Park, Lake Zurich, Kildeer, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Prospect Heights, Mount Prospect and Des Plaines 
  • $1,460,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on US 14 from Main Street/Lake Cook Road to Ela Road in Inverness and Barrington 
  • $3,040,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on US 14 from Ela Road to Hicks Road in Palatine and Inverness 
  • $35,720,000 for bridge rehabilitation on IL 53 from south of US 12 to IL 62 in Arlington Heights 
  • $10,222,000 for engineering for improvements to IL 53 from south of US 12 to IL 62 in Arlington Heights 
  • $780,000 for culvert replacement and drainage improvements on IL 68 from the east branch of Salt Creek near Quentin Road in Palatine 
  • $1,300,000 for resurfacing on Barrington Road from IL 59 to IL 62 in Inverness, Barrington Hills and Barrington 
  • $1,100,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Hicks Road south of US 14 to Kirchoff Road in Palatine and Rolling Meadows 
  • $395,000 for resurfacing on IL 53 from US 12 to Anderson Drive in Palatine 
  • $1,500,000 for resurfacing, ADA improvements and a railroad flagger on Main Street between Hart Road and Ela Road in Barrington Hills, Barrington and Deer Park 
  • $665,000 for resurfacing and ADA Improvements on Meacham Road from Emerson Avenue to IL 62 in Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg 
  • $2,260,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road between IL 62 to east of Roselle Road in Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Inverness and Palatine 
  • $7,650 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road from US 14 to Sanders Road in Palatine, Arlington Heights, Prospect Heights and Wheeling 
  • $1,000,000 for culvert replacement on Palatine Road at Salt Creek south of Winston Drive in Palatine 
  • $370,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road and South Frontage Road from North Verde Avenue to Palatine Road in Arlington Heights 
  • $800,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Palatine Road/North Frontage Road from Williams Drive to Alison Drive in Palatine 
Based on current funding levels, the FY 2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the State. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.

Upon announcing the statewide infrastructure plan, Governor Bruce Rauner said, “Illinois is a transportation hub for the nation, facilitating commerce from coast to coast. By investing in that infrastructure and regularly repairing and upgrading our roads, we preserve a vital resource that brings jobs and economic opportunity to our state, and ensures roads are safe for Illinois families.”
On May 31, lawmakers approved a $38.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019 budget. Rep. Tom Morrison voted against the budget and explained his vote in this edition of the Morrison Report.
Illinois lawmakers sent a $38.5 billion budget package to Governor Bruce Rauner today. After the House of Representatives’ 97-18 vote of approval, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) issued the following statement:


“I was disappointed that this year’s budget process did not begin with an agreed revenue estimate, which is required by law and our state’s Constitution. That critical first step of the process was ignored by the majority party, and it calls into question whether or not this budget is truly balanced.”

“I appreciate the bipartisanship that was shown during this year’s budget process, but I simply cannot put a vote behind a measure that channels taxpayer funds toward elective abortions of healthy babies. Data suggests that through this new policy the state’s taxpayers, many who have strong pro-life convictions, will be stuck paying for anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 abortions in Fiscal Year 2019. This is the wrong path for Illinois.”

“There are issues that must be addressed if we are ever going to regain solid financial footing in this state. This budget fails to offer reforms our state needs to make us competitive, no changes to our workers compensation system and no new policies to provide desperately-needed property tax relief. It does nothing to address the nearly $7 billion backlog of unpaid bills and also falls short on serious, long-term changes to our state’s pension systems.”
On Wednesday, members of the House of Representative approved SJRCA04, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by a narrow margin. With the House approval yesterday, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA. During the debate, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine), spoke about current laws on the books that provide female-friendly provisions that could be wiped away if the ERA were fully enacted.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) joined a bipartisan coalition of House members on Tuesday to state their united opposition to the inclusion of taxpayer funds for elective abortion services in the FY 2019 budget.

“This is an issue we feel very strongly about,” said Morrison. “We have been talking with our respective leadership and budget negotiation teams for weeks about this, and we are asking that our objections and moral convictions be respected. Forcing taxpayers to pay for elected abortions in spite of all of our other budgetary priorities is something we felt we needed to raise attention to.”

Specifically, Morrison and his colleagues suggested various ways that a budget could be formulated in a manner that would allow pro-life lawmakers to vote their moral convictions while still voting on the integrity of the rest of the budget. Solutions included an up or down vote on a single item appropriation of taxpayer funding for abortions, separating the budget into several different silos, or including language similar to the federal Hyde-amendment to the budget implementation (BIMP) bill.

“The proposed solutions would allow those of us who have taken a stand of protecting all life, including life in the womb, to stay true to our convictions while also representing our constituents with regard to passage of a budget.”
State Representative Tom Morrison recently participated in a Memorial Day observation on the floor of the House in Springfield. He also spoke with his colleague, Veteran and State Representative Jeannie Ives (R-Wheaton) about the importance of seeking out family veterans and listening to their stories.
In this edition of the Morrison Report, State Representative Tom Morrison talks with his colleague State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) about the crushing property tax burden in Illinois and a recent suggestion that property owners pay an additional 1% property tax on the fair market value of their homes for the next 30 years as a method of paying down pension debt.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has received the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Award for Conservative Achievement for his voting record in 2017.

The Foundation scored every State Representative and Senator according to their votes on 23 key bills, and Morrison earned an 86% approval rating. Click here to view the Foundation report. The 23 bills that were scored can be found on pages 12-13, and Morrison’s individual scoring can be found on page 16.

“I am a strong advocate for conservative values and my voting record reflects that,” said Morrison. “It is an honor to be recognized for the votes I took in this area and I appreciate the award from the American Conservative Union Foundation.”

According to the Foundation, the overall average score in the Illinois House of Representatives was just 46%, with House Republicans recording an average score of 80% and House Democrats recording an average score of 19%.
On Friday, May 18, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) welcomed Audrey Pazur as his Page for a Day in Springfield. The page program is coordinated through Morrison's Springfield office. If you have a child who would like to experience the Illinois legislative process up close from the floor of the House of Representatives, please contact Morrison's Springfield office at (217) 782-8026.
On this edition of the Morrison Report, State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) talks with his colleague State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) about the recent school shooting at the high school in Dixon, IL.

During graduation practice for seniors, a classmate entered the gymnasium with a rifle and began shooting. Thankfully, a trained and armed school resource officer was on site and immediately sprang into action and prevented the gunman from causing any injuries or deaths.

Click here to watch the video interview.
Legislators Return to Capitol for Final Weeks of Spring Session
Lawmakers returned to Springfield this week to begin the final 3 ½ weeks of the spring session. During this time we will consider Senate Bills that successfully passed out of that chamber and affirm or reject Senate amendments made to House bills we previously approved earlier this year. Budget discussions will become more intense as the May 31 adjournment date draws nearer.

Rep. Morrison Gives Comcast Newsmaker Interview
I recently sat down with Ellee Pai Hong from Comcast Newsmakers to discuss savings that could be generated by consolidating individual police and fire pension systems in two larger systems. Click here to watch the full interview.

Pension Debt Continues to Threaten Illinois’ Credit Rating
The burden of unpaid Illinois pensions continues to mount on state and local taxpayers. Illinois’ state-managed pensions should have over $130 billion more funds under investment than they currently have. This shortfall is called the “unfunded pension liability.” These monies are required to pay mandated benefits to local teachers and state employees. Unfunded pensions for local workers, including local police officers and firefighters, add additional billions to this debt.

House Republicans continue to warn about the situation and demand true, long-term pension reforms. These warnings have been joined by Senate Republicans and by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Every Illinois man, woman, and child owes $11,000 in unfunded pension obligations. These burdens will have a seriously detrimental effect on Illinois’ prospects for future economic growth unless reforms are enacted.

More than $141,000 in Library Grants Benefiting 54th District
We are very fortunate in the 54th District to have wonderful community libraries. I am pleased to announce that $141,353 in state-sponsored per capita grant money has been approved for libraries serving the 54th Legislative House District. The Public Library Per Capita Grants Program was established to assist public libraries to improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available, on an annual basis, to all Illinois local public libraries through an application process.

Libraries serving the 54th Legislative House District that will receive funds include:
  • Palatine Public Library District for $111,228.75 
  • Rolling Meadows Library for $30,123.75 
Since 1979, this annual grant program has provided funding to support the day-to-day operations of Illinois’ public libraries. According to the Secretary of State’s office, most libraries have chosen to use the money to fund library materials, programs and personnel.

Revenue Numbers Published for April 2018
Legislators routinely rely on financial data provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), a nonpartisan budgeting arm of the Illinois General Assembly. COGFA works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State agencies to track Illinois general funds revenues on a month-to-month basis. The data gathered by COGFA is reported to the General Assembly annually and is supposed to be used by the House and Senate to adopt a revenue estimate to control spending in the appropriations process. While budget discussions are underway, the General Assembly has not yet approved a revenue estimate. State law in Illinois actually requires us to adopt a revenue estimate:
The House and Senate by joint resolution shall adopt or modify such estimates as may be appropriate. The joint resolution shall constitute the General Assembly’s estimate, under paragraph B of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution, of funds estimated to be available during the next fiscal year (25 ILCS 155/4(a))
A revenue estimate is also required by Subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois:
Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session and no approved revenue estimate in place, I recently joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and other House Republicans in filing a resolution that urges lawmakers to immediately adopt COGFA’s revenue estimate so it serve as the starting point of legitimate budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2019. HJR 124 adopts the COGFA revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019.

“Better Care Illinois” Behavioral Health Initiative Announced
Illinois has received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. The Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative is the culmination of a 30-month long effort to involve state health agencies, legislators and behavioral health organizations in a coordinated plan to help people with disorders that require treatment of the whole person.

The waiver is not a grant but rather an opportunity to use $2 billion Medicaid dollars differently to increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid populations. The state got the go-ahead to launch the initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which approved the state's application for an 1115 Waiver. The waiver means that beginning July 1, 2018, Illinois can begin investing $2 billion of federal funds in 10 pilots to demonstrate better care alternatives and outcomes.

Better Care Illinois is a win for state taxpayers who over time will see better health outcomes without spending more state dollars. The demonstrations will result in more early help for beneficiaries, so savings can eventually be invested in more cost-effective services. More than 750,000 beneficiaries, 25 percent of Illinois' Medicaid population, have behavioral health conditions, and they account for 52 percent of Medicaid spending. The application process was led by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the state's Medicaid agency. Thirteen state agencies participated in the development of the approved application. The 10 CMS-approved pilot projects involve a variety of treatment, intervention, case management and home health programs. Summaries of the 10 pilots in the Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative can be accessed here.

Top 200 Historic Sites Chosen in Informal Poll
The Illinois Top 200 Project turned this week to top historic sites. Illinois residents were asked to choose a top Illinois site via an informal online poll. The winning choice was Lincoln’s New Salem, the open-air heritage site operated by the Historic Preservation Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Located in Central Illinois, New Salem was the home of Abraham Lincoln during the formative years of the future president’s young manhood. Here he kept store, sorted mail, and studied law in preparation for his future career. 

Other leading candidates included the Pullman National Monument on Chicago’s Far South Side. A reminder of Illinois’ industrial and railroad heritage, the Pullman Monument contains many buildings from the 1880s. In northern Illinois, the John Deere home and blacksmith shop in Grand Detour pays tribute to Illinois inventiveness and craftsmanship. Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Southern Illinois, U.S. Route 66, the Old State Capitol, Fort de Chartres, Fort Massac, and the President Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home rounded out the top ten sites honored.

Hotline and Network of Legal Services Launched to Assist Veterans and Service Members
The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) is the first-ever statewide hotline and network of legal support services for veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents. Through the IL-AFLAN, veterans and military personnel can obtain free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems, as well as issues such as discharge upgrades and benefit appeals. The free hotline can be accessed at 1-855-452-3526 (1-855-ILAFLAN) and is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM. Serving as the entry point to the IL-AFLAN, the hotline will offer legal advice and brief services and then connect veterans and military personnel to legal aid providers near their community. Nine organizations, spanning every major area of the state, have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN. To be eligible for services through this new program, veterans and active duty military members need to have an income less than 80 percent of the Chicago area median income. For a family of four, this translates into $63,000 annually.

Governor’s Hometown Awards Applications Available
Applications are being accepted for the Governor’s Hometown Awards, the annual recognition program in honor of community leadership programs that maintain the quality of life in the places where the program participants live and work. Past winners include programs that engage in food drives, tutoring, senior welfare awareness, the war against opioids, and exercise and trail maintenance. The Hometown Awards will be celebrated this year in conjunction with the Illinois Bicentennial. This year’s cycle will celebrate community projects that took place in calendar year 2017. Applications are due no later than August 1, 2018.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) recently sat down with Ellee Pai Hong from Comcast Newsmakers to discuss savings that could be generated by consolidating individual police and fire pension systems in two larger systems. Click here to watch the full interview.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) announced today that $141,353 in state-sponsored per capita grant money has been approved for libraries located in the 54th Legislative House District.

The Public Library Per Capita Grants Program was established to assist public libraries to improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available, on an annual basis, to all Illinois local public libraries through an application process.

“Libraries are often a focal point of a community,” said Morrison. “I am pleased to know that a portion of this year’s per capita library grant funds will be channeled toward libraries here in the 54th District.”

Libraries within the 54th Legislative House District that will receive funds include:
  • Palatine Public Library District for $111,228.75 
  • Rolling Meadows Library for $30,123.75 
Per Capita Grant funding allows resources for expenses such as materials, personnel, equipment, electronic access, telecommunications and technology.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Morrison) recently spoke about his role on the Personnel & Pensions Committee and some of the legislation that has been considered by the committee members this year. Click here to view the video.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) today in filing a resolution in support of adopting a revenue estimate in order to begin serious budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2019.

“It is our constitutional duty to taxpayers across Illinois to spend within our means – something we have not done in decades here at the Capitol,” Durkin said. “The rejection of certifying a revenue estimate in Springfield is not acceptable and is legislative malpractice. We owe it to Illinois taxpayers to take this first step in finally balancing the state’s checkbook and putting Illinois on the right track towards fiscal stability.”

House Joint Resolution 124 adopts a revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019, based on the estimate provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

“COGFA is a well-respected non-partisan organization that provides the General Assembly with reliable data on which we can make good decisions,” said Morrison. “Their revenue estimate of $37.67 billion is based on thorough research and I encourage the House and Senate to adopt their estimate without delay so it may be used as the starting point of formulating a balanced budget for Fiscal year 2019.” 

According to Morrison, a revenue estimate is required by state law:

The House and Senate by joint resolution shall adopt or modify such estimates as may be appropriate. The joint resolution shall constitute the General Assembly’s estimate, under paragraph B of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution, of funds estimated to be available during the next fiscal year (25 ILCS 155/4(a))

It is also required by Subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois:
Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office is offering Illinoisans an opportunity to submit artwork for consideration to be emblazoned on a special 2018 Illinois Bicentennial medallion. The contest timeline to submit a design is now through May 1, 2018. All designs must be submitted via the official online form located here. Submissions will be judged initially by the treasurer's office based on content uniqueness, creativity, quality, accuracy, and completion. Contestants must be Illinois residents and may only submit one design. The top five designs will be made available for the public to vote on between June 1, 2018 and June 15, 2018 on the treasurer's office website. A final winner will be announced on June 18, 2018.

The contest winner will be announced via press release and on social media, and the contest winner will be notified prior to the official announcement. Please read all contest terms and conditions. Questions should be directed to Maria Oldani via e-mail (moldani@illinoistreasurer.gov) or phone (217-782-9598).
On Wednesday, Governor Bruce Rauner presented his annual budget address. His recommended spending and revenue plan is the starting point of Fiscal Year 2019 budget discussions. After the speech, Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) spoke about the importance of right-sizing our government and bringing spending under control. Click here to watch Rep. Morrison's remarks.
Click here to watch the speech live at noon today.
Lawmakers Return to Springfield for Start of 2018 Session
Members of the House and Senate returned to the Capitol this week for the start of the 2018 legislative session. The highlight of the week occurred on Wednesday, January 31, when the Governor presented his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly. Governor Rauner struck a positive tone as he spoke about the continued need for bipartisan solutions that will grow the Illinois economy and restore public trust.

Following the 45-minute speech I provided my thoughts about the speech in an interview. Click here to view that video.

Morrison Champions Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter Legislation
Last week I signed on as the Chief Co-Sponsor of important legislation that would significantly reform Illinois’ budget process. The “Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter” gives broad power to taxpayers, limits lawmakers’ ability to create new and unfunded entitlement programs, stops the flow of unfunded mandates toward schools and local government, and ensures the pension system’s stability.

Specifically, HB 4229 includes:
  • A two-year freeze in discretionary State spending; the freeze would continue after the deadline if at that point the State is unable to pay vendors within 30 days 
  • A prohibition against adding any new programs or expansions of existing programs unless a full pension payment - based on actuarial requirements - is made 
  • A requirement that any new legislation which creates new spending include an identified revenue source or identified cuts to an existing program to pay for the new spending
  • A mandatory 72-hour online posting of the General Assembly’s proposed new fiscal year budget prior to passage
Lawmakers must take serious action to address reckless spending, and the provisions included in HB 4229 represent a major first step in addressing Illinois’ financial problems.

Morrison Signs On as Chief Co-Sponsor of Legislation to Enact Term Limits for Legislative Leaders
This week I joined some of my House Republican colleagues in championing new legislation that would put 10-year term limits in place for legislative leaders. HB 4194 would change state law to allow a member of the General Assembly to serve no more than 10 years as Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, President of the Senate or Senate Minority Leader. If approved and signed into law, the provisions of the bill would take effect with the inauguration of the next General Assembly in 2019. I believe this bill would be a good way to restore some accountability to Springfield and prevent any one individual from accumulating too much power within state government.

Metra Seeks Public Input on Proposed Fare Structure
Metra is seeking input from customers regarding potential changes to fare structure and ticket options at several public forums this February. A public hearing will be held in Arlington Heights at the Village Hall on Thursday, February 8 from 4:00-7:00 PM. The village hall is located at 33 S. Arlington Heights Road. You can also comment on the proposed changes online here. To read more about the proposed changes and the upcoming hearings, click here.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) announced today that $17,637 in school library grant money has been approved for two school districts located in the 54th Legislative House District.

The School District Library Grant Program is designed to help provide more library books and materials for students attending public schools in Illinois. The state legislature has authorized up to a $.75 per pupil expenditure for qualifying schools. The grant award is based on funds appropriated by the General Assembly and the official enrollment as of the previous September 30th of a school district.

Specifically, the following grants will be processed by the Secretary of State’s Office next week and then forwarded to the Comptroller’s office for payment:
  • Township High School District #211: $8,724.75
  • Palatine Community Consolidated School District #15: $8,912.25
“Print and digital reading materials are an incredibly important element of teaching and learning,” said Morrison. “I am pleased to know that a portion of this year’s school library grant allocation will be put to good use right here in the 54th District.”
January is National Blood Donation Month, and the recent cold weather has added an additional strain to an already-low blood supply. Each unit of blood that is donated can save up to three lives, and while approximately 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, fewer than five percent of the eligible public actually donates. Click here to find the location of an upcoming blood drive year you.

To be eligible to donate blood in Illinois, donors must:
  • Be 17 years of age or older (16 year-olds may donate with parental consent)
  • Be in good health on the day of the donation
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Be free of cold and flu symptoms
  • Present a photo ID with a birth date
  • Not have a history of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C at any age
Warming centers are available throughout the state to help Illinois residents fight cold temperatures during this record-setting cold weather. Click here to search for a warming center near you.